There is a delicious irony that the paper whose Sunday Business Section regularly carries Gretchen Morgenstern’s screeds against the size of executive pay packages is under fire from one of its largest investors for overpaying its top executives. Why do we suspect that the odds of Gretchen writing about this are approaching zero?
One of the New York Times' largest shareholders stepped up an attack on the newspaper giant yesterday in a move some industry observers consider a veiled attempt to dethrone company scion Arthur "Pinch" Sulzberger Jr.
In a shareholder proposal filed yesterday, Morgan Stanley Investment Management, which owns a 7.6 percent stake in the Times, urged the company to split the jobs of chairman and publisher, positions currently held by Sulzberger.
Sulzberger is also trustee for the controlling Sulzberger family, all of which adds up to "inherently conflicted positions that thwart effective board oversight," Hassan Elmasry, head of the London-based Morgan Stanley fund, wrote in the proposal.
"As publisher of the newspaper, he reports to the company CEO whom he himself [as chairman] appoints," Elmasry added. "As chairman, he reports to a board of directors, the majority of whom are elected by the Sulzberger Family Trust on which he himself serves as trustee."
The Morgan Stanley fund, an investor in the Times since 1996, wasn't bothered by this arrangement until a few years ago when the company's strategy took a new turn and access to Sulzberger and other top executives became increasingly constrained, sources close to the fund told The Post.
Among Elmasry's criticisms are the hefty compensation packages awarded to top executives as profits tumbled and the enormous new Midtown Manhattan headquarters built as the size of the company's staff was shrinking, sources said.
Squeezing Pinch [New York Post]